Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Creating the Nastradamus music video set

As you might've seen yesterday, this was the Nastradamus set I found in our portfolio the other day. It's a bit old, but still worth a mention.

This is how it was done- short version:

We talked with the production designer about the idea of an flattened dome shape for Nas's control room. More interesting than a straight up dome, and more complicated too. Curves of any kind add complexity to a set but these were regular and radially symmetrical which worked in our favor. The designer did a few hand drawn (or "pencil") drawings and we used these to scale out the curved struts that formed the basic skeleton of the dome. These we cut out of 3/4" plywood and rough cut trapezoidal panels from "wiggle wood" (bendable plywood) that would become the skin of the dome. We modified a large commercial industrial fan so the blades were longer and just a bit more futuristic. Loaded all into the truck and drove off to some big soundstage in Queens.

Wiggle Wood
Once there, the very first thing was to hang the fan plumb to give us a perfect position for the center of the dome. Essentially we built the set around that fan. We erected the struts radially around the center, using a laser level to find the exact lines, like the hours on a clock face. This then formed the frame which we could begin skinning with the wiggle wood panels. We fine cut these on site to bend into the spaces.

The commercial industrial fan we modified

Oh, did I mention that a quarter section had to be removable and seamlessly replaceable to allow for camera access? That little detail is worth another post in itself, especially since they told us about it after we got on set...but ANYhow,  we added the plexiglass for the windows and other details, sprayed the whole thing silver.

Nas came in and did his thing and left with the entire crew to get all the outdoor shots.

When it came time to strike the thing next morning, we just popped out a few panels and gave it a little shove sideways... It wobbled a bit and then the entire structure spiralled in on itself and lay flat on the stage floor. Perfection! It was the easiest and quickest take down I ever did.

And right there's the irony inherent in this Biz.... everything may appear real and solid, but it's all ephemeral. Everything. Smoke and mirrors.

Much more to say about that. Stay tuned.

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